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Patterns of legal change: shareholder and creditor rights in transition economies


  • Katharina Pistor

    (Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Private Law, Hamburg)


This paper analyses changes in the legal protection of shareholder and creditor rights in 24 transition economies from 1990 to 1998. It documents differences in the initial conditions and a tendency towards convergence of formal legal rules as the result of extensive legal reforms. Convergence seems to be primarily the result of foreign technical assistance programmes as well as of harmonisation requirements for countries wishing to join the European Union. The external supply of legal rules notwithstanding, the pattern of legal reforms suggests that law reform has been primarily retroactive rather than proactive. In comparison, the pre-socialist heritage of transition economies has little explanatory power for the observed patterns of legal change. A partial exception are countries with German legal heritage, which favour creditor over shareholder protection and display substantially better creditor protection than other transition economies. The paper discusses the implications of the response pattern of legal change with externally supplied legal solutions for the prospects of effective law enforcement and compliance with the law in transition economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Katharina Pistor, 2000. "Patterns of legal change: shareholder and creditor rights in transition economies," Working Papers 49, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebd:wpaper:49

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    Corporate and securities law; law enforcement; socialist transition;

    JEL classification:

    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • P34 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Finance


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